Viewers spot Lorraine Kelly Himalayas gaffe

29 April 2021
What was claimed

Lorraine Kelly said photos from India showed the improvement in air quality driven by the lockdown, with the Himalayas visible in a photo taken after lockdown compared to one taken before.

Our verdict

The “before” photo is just an edited version of the “after” photo, illustrating what the skyline might have looked like before lockdown. There is evidence the lockdown in India improved air quality and visibility to the point where the Himalayas were visible from Jalandhar.

We have been asked by readers to check a claim made by Lorraine Kelly that before and after photos from northern India showed how pollution reduced due to the lockdown, with the Himalayas visible in the “after” shot. 

In the viral clip, she says: “We’re seeing the Himalayas before and after. Before people in Pakistan [sic] couldn’t see them. You can see the split-screen there. That was before when it was just like smog basically, and then look at that, crystal-clear views.” 

One eagle-eyed viewer spotted that in both photos two men appear in the same positions and wearing the same clothing, casting doubt that the images were genuine.

The “after” photo, showing the Himalayas visible from the city of Jalandhar in Punjab, northern India, is genuine and was taken by photographer Anshul Chopra

The “before” photo is the same image, but with the sky and Himalayas edited and blurred to show an illustration of what the skyline might have looked like before lockdown.

The fact that the after picture has been edited is made quite clear in the documentary being discussed on Lorraine, called ‘The Year Earth Changed’ on Apple TV.

In the documentary, Mr Chopra describes how he took the photo showing the Himalayas, and then you see the edited “before” image fade into the real “after” image. There’s no suggestion that the first is a genuine “before” shot.

And there is some anecdotal evidence that a reduction in pollution brought on by the first lockdown in India did allow people in Jalandhar and nearby to see the Himalayas for the first time in years. 

There is also statistical evidence that the first national lockdown in India, which started on 24 March 2020, led to significant improvements in air quality and visibility.

Ms Kelly also talked about how the photos showed how “before people in Pakistan couldn’t see [the Himalayas].”

Jalandhar is in India not Pakistan. The Daily Express also incorrectly suggests Jalandhar is in Pakistan throughout its report.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because while it is wrong for Lorraine Kelly to have claimed this was a genuine “before” shot, there is evidence the lockdown in India improved air quality and visibility to the point where the Himalayas were visible from Jalandhar.

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